Ofcom: Britons moving online with smartphones

The number of Britons with internet access has overtaken the number of PC owners for the first time, highlighting the rise of smartphones.

Ofcom: Britons moving online with smartphones

According to an extensive report from Ofcom, 78% of the UK is now online – but only 77% say they own a PC.

The telecoms regulator said that was down to the rise of smartphones, with a quarter of adults and almost half of teenagers owning such a device – with 59% buying their smartphone over the past year.

The ownership of a PC has always been a constraint on the take-up of home internet services

“The ownership of a PC has always been a constraint on the take-up of home internet services, with the cost of the PC preventing some households from getting online and others saying they do not have the knowledge/skills to use a computer,” the report said.

“However, the mass-market emergence of internet-enabled phones and internet services designed specifically for mobile phones (such as mobile applications) means that increasingly people are getting online through mobile phones,” it added.

Some 60% of teenagers and more than a third of adults said they were “addicted” to their smartphone, admitting to using their handset at the cinema, while eating, in bed, or while out with friends.

However, only half of adult smartphone users have bothered to download an app, and only a quarter have paid for one.

Broadband gains

Of course, many people have both a smartphone and a PC. While Ofcom noted that mobile web access is on the rise, so too is fixed broadband – especially among older people.

Total broadband penetration jumped by three points to 74% at the beginning of the year, with fixed lines growing much faster than mobile dongles, up to 67% of the UK from 65%, while only 17% use a mobile dongle.

Ofcom said as of May this year, half a million homes had signed up for superfast broadband – which it now defines as connections with an advertised speed of at least 30Mbits/sec.

While that take-up isn’t particularly impressive given 57% of homes now have access to superfast broadband, Ofcom said 80% of those who have signed up are “satisfied” with the service, compared to 57% with slower broadband connections.

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